Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent Ghosts 2013: "The World in Solemn Stillness Lay"

Each year at this wintry holiday time Loren Eaton who blogs at I Saw Lightning Fall invites bloggers and creative writers to contribute vignettes for his Advent Ghosts celebration. It's a Flash Fiction Challenge of sorts but with a word limit set at exactly 100. No more, no less. It's also his community tribute to the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas time. This year I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. Here's my contribution. It's inspired by a well known M.R. James story.

"The World in Solemn Stillness Lay"

Yesterday there was a light in the window of the steeple.  Now it was out.

Yesterday, a blanket of snow untouched before the church. Now there were footprints.


Yesterday, carolers singing near the pine trees. Now they were gone.


Was it digital trickery? The picture must alter over time, he thought. Some clever technological magic. But it was a woodcut on handmade paper colored with inks, not a photo. An old fashioned Christmas card, an old fashioned image. He wasn't frightened, just mystified.


Then he looked at the floor and saw the puddle and a trail of tiny scarlet footprints.




For more chilling vignettes of a mere one hundred words please visit Loren's blog where he has gathered all the links from the participating writer's various blogs. Wishing a very merry Christmas to all you wonderful people out there in the dark.

13 comments:

  1. Great fun John - reminded me of the great Fredric Brown short-shorts! Have a great Christmas.

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  2. Oh, man, I know exactly which M.R. James story this alludes to -- "The Mezzotint." One of his best, and your tale is no slouch either. Very well done.

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    1. Points to you, Loren, you ghost story maven! That is exactly the story.

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    2. I spent the entire time with "The Mezzotint" trying to remember what the heck a mezzotint was. :-/

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  3. Lovely piece. I like that sense of quiet chill you created so well!

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  4. I really enjoyed the subtly of this. Fantastic job.

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  5. You took me away with your words, thnk you.

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  6. I enjoyed this a lot. You managed a kind of creepiness that sneaks up on the reader pretty fast.

    Now I'm going to have to go read the M.R. James story, too.

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  7. Very good piece, John. Well done

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  8. I have no idea what's going on here, and it's still (maybe especially) creepy. Now I have to keep on eye on those darn Christmas cards too!

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    1. Don't feel too bad -- my partner didn't fully udnerstand what was going on either. I had to explain the story to him. I think I made a mistake in the final sentence. Now I regret changing "tiny bloodied scarf" to "trail of tiny scarlet footprints." It was that 100 word limit that was my undoing. I intended to be creepy and economical, but I ended up being creepy and ambiguous.

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